HELSINKI (AP) — Swedish and Finnish foreign ministers said in separate interviews published on Saturday that the process for the two Nordic countries to join NATO is Membership continues despite Turkey’s president saying Sweden should not expect its country to approve it.
Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Birström acknowledged Turkey’s anger over recent demonstrations and the burning of the Quran in an interview with Swedish newspaper Expressen. Complicating Sweden’s NATO membership in front of the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm.
To admit a new country, NATO requires the unanimous approval of its existing members, Turkey being one of them. Despite this, the Swedish government hopes to join NATO this summer, Billström said.
“Obviously we are aiming for a (NATO) summit in Vilnius,” Billström, the Lithuanian capital, told Expressen in July when asked about a possible schedule for Sweden’s accession.
Hungary and Turkey are the only countries among the 30 Western military alliances that have not approved Finland and Sweden’s applications.
Hungary promised to do so in February, but Turkish Foreign Minister Mevrut Čavsoglu said on Thursday that a meeting scheduled in Brussels to discuss Sweden and Finland’s NATO membership had been postponed..
Kavsoglu said such a meeting would have been “pointless” following what happened in Stockholm last weekend. This included protests by pro-Kurdish groups and the burning of Islamic scriptures outside the Turkish embassy. Danish far-right politician Rasmus Pardan.
Expressen quoted Billström on Saturday as saying that work to bring Sweden and Finland into NATO is not on hold.
“The NATO process has not been suspended. The (Swedish) government continues to implement the memorandum of understanding that exists between Sweden, Finland and Turkey. But it is up to Turkey to ratify when,” he said.
Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavist said, like Swedish Foreign Minister, the two countries plan to continue their joint journey towards NATO.
“From my point of view, neither country has a closed path to NATO,” Haavisto said in an interview with Finnish public broadcaster YLE.
He said Turkey’s announcement to postpone the trilateral talks with Finland, Sweden and Turkey for now “represents an extension of time from the Turkish side, and the issue will be resolved in Turkey’s scheduled meeting on May 14. It can be reconsidered after the next election,” he said.
Haavisto said he looked forward to the time frame for Finland and Sweden’s membership to be finalized at the NATO summit to be held in Lithuania on July 11-12.